Street Fighter X Tekken: Dream match of the decade?

March 20, 2012

With fighting games riding the current wave of popularity, a dream match game seemed inevitable. In that respect, Street Fighter X Tekken seems like a no-brainer. Two top-selling franchises squaring off together is the stuff fan fiction is made for, right? But the series play completely differently, so how did the minds at Capcom reconcile the two?

Let me get this out of the way immediately: Street Fighter X Tekken does not play like Super Street Fighter IV. Where some matches in SSFIV felt like an endurance test, SF x Tekken feels much faster. Staying true to their own games’ formula, some Tekken characters take quite a while to get used to, as they have some special moves that are combinations of attack buttons as opposed to a single input (much more like the “dial-a-combo” of the actual Tekken games). This makes them slightly harder to pick up and play than their Street Fighter counterparts, but does not bar newcomers from having fun.

The game has many features that make it lucrative for casual players to join in. Following the trend of a couple other fighting games out there, the game has a nice tutorial mode that brings fresh recruits up to speed. There is even a quick combo option in the customization menu that allows players that can’t string combos together to map one to an input. This advantage doesn’t come for free, as a player must have stored up some meter to use this ability.

Obviously the biggest draw of Street Fighter X Tekken is the tag-team battle, allowing up to four players to take part in the tussle for supremacy. The tag controls are responsive and add a new layer of depth similar to the Marvel vs. Capcom series, but you only need to lose one character to lose the round.  Luckily there are multiple ways to switch characters out including simple three button combos and screen filling supers. Executing combos while switching between fighters is exhilarating, but if you are playing with a human partner there is a pretty high level of coordination needed to use cross assaults and tag combos effectively.

A point of contention with a lot of the diehard fans is the gem system. From my time spent playing around with them, I found the attack gems and speed gems to be the most effective in casual play. Unfortunately, they can turn a fight around in seconds if you are facing someone who knows what they are doing. There is an impressive amount of gems to choose from (especially if you got the special edition of the game), and they add a unique mechanic to matches, but they look to be a nightmare for organized play.

My online experience has been minimal thus far, but all of the matches I played had issues with sound. The game ran fine for most fights, but without those cues telling me that my hit registered, it was hard to combo or gauge how you are doing without frantically watching your life meter. Capcom is looking into this problem, and hopefully it will be patched sooner than later. Reports have said the Xbox 360 version suffers from the inability to play two-player co-op online from the same system, and unfortunately Capcom has said there will be no patch.

Just like about every other fighting game on the planet, the story in Street Fighter X Tekken is completely forgettable.  All it boils down to teams of two fighting each other on their way to Antarctica to uncover a mysterious artifact, Pandora’s Box. The arcade mode has voiced intros and endings for each team, as well as rival battles. All of this simply adds fluff to the game, breathing more life into the already-colorful cast of characters, but the intros and outros are terribly boring.

The cast itself is a lovingly-picked roster from each game’s history. There are old standbys like Ryu, Guile, Kazuy, and Yoshimitsu, as well as a couple of newer faces such as Abel or Lili. Most characters have options to be voiced in English and Japanese, and all are able to have costume colors edited. Unfortunately, Capcom is providing color packs as free DLC later down the road, so the only choices at the moment are black and white.

Other DLC options include additional characters, costumes and gems, which will cost collectors a pretty penny (gems are free downloads). Most of their planned DLC content has already been spoiled as the resources are actually already on disc, which has drawn ire from a bevy of fans, but will be worth it for those that are looking to add more to the experience.

All things considered though, what you get in Street Fighter X Tekken is enough to keep fighting game fans satisfied for months. Any gamers looking to step into the fighting game arena should also check it out, as it is about as player-friendly as a Capcom fighting game is going to get.

Pros: Easy mechanics, all-star cast, multiplayer is fantastic, slick presentation
Cons: Appeal is limited, online needs work, gems are a mixed bag

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.